Compound nouns are a salient part of language, yet their plural forms are often confusing. In English, there are several rules for forming the plural of compound nouns. To ensure accuracy, it’s crucial to understand the conventions governing the formation of plurals of compound nouns. This article explains how to correctly form plural compound nouns and exceptions to these general rules.
What is the Plural Form of Compound Nouns?
Compound nouns are made up of two or more words. The plural form of regular compound nouns is formed by adding an -s or -es to the end of the main word, or the last word in the compound noun. For example, the plural form of “toothbrush” is “toothbrushes.”
Plural Form of Compound Nouns Rules
The general convention for forming the plural of compound nouns is to add an -s or -es to the end of the main word. However, this rule varies depending on the type of compound noun.
The table below summarizes the general rules for the plural form of compound nouns:
|Combination||Singular Compound Noun Examples||Pluralization||Plural Compound Noun Examples|
|noun + noun||action movie|
|When a compound noun follows the noun + noun formula, add “-s” to the second noun or “-ies” if it ends in the letter y.||action movies|
|noun + ful||mouthful|
|When a compound noun follows the noun + ful formula, add “-s” at the end of the word.||mouthfuls|
|adjective + noun||active ingredient|
|When a compound noun follows the adjective + noun formula, add “-s” at the end of the word. If the noun is multisyllabic and ends in “y,” change it to “-ies.”||active ingredients|
|verb + preposition||check-in|
|When a compound noun follows the verb + preposition formula, add “-s” at the end of the preposition instead of the verb.||check-ins|
|noun + preposition||passer-by|
|When a compound noun follows the noun + preposition formula, add “-s” at the end of the noun.||passers-by|
|noun + prepositional phrase||mother-in-law|
|When a compound noun follows the noun + prepositional phrase formula, add “-s” at the end of the noun.||mothers-in-law|
The plural form of irregular compound nouns deviates from the rules above. For example, the plural form of “man-of-war” is “men-of-war.” Instead of “firemans,” the plural of the fireman is “firemen.” Moreover, some irregular compound nouns have the same singular and plural form. Examples are aircraft, spacecraft, headquarters, crossroads, and offspring.
Examples of Plural Form of Compound Nouns
Here are twenty examples of plural form of compound nouns used in sentences.
- I have ten action movies in my collection of DVDs.
- We need to buy three bar soaps for the bathroom.
- The parking tickets were expensive, but we had no choice.
- My business activities have increased significantly this year.
- There are a lot of case studies about the effects of climate change.
- Government agencies are working together to address the issue.
- She ate two mouthfuls of cake before she ran her errands.
- Fiona needs five handfuls of loam soil for the pot of chives.
- The active ingredients in the medicine are safe for children.
- How many joint accounts do we have?
- These married couples had been together for over ten years.
- Clean energy sources are essential to protect the environment.
- We should save money for rainy days.
- Why do you have two different check-ins for the same flight?
- The grown-ups were talking about their childhood memories.
- The passers-by stopped to watch the street performance.
- The headquarters of the company are in New York City and Singapore.
- William read the foreign policies of five countries before deciding where to move.
- The two offspring of the lioness are growing up fast.
- Gina likes spending time with her sisters-in-law.
Plural Form of Compound Nouns Exercises with Answers
Complete the sentences below by arranging the jumbled compound nouns in their plural form.
- I don’t need four different waarlpleps for my bedroom.
- Maila brings three tbxkooets to school every day.
- The college will have to organize separate sned-sfof for the graduating students.
- The henagrs-no were annoying the celebrities at the event.
- We need to buy six pairs of rninnug soehs for our marathon training.
- My bhretros-ni-lwa are coming over for dinner tonight.
- Dr. Adam has been studying several oekburtas of the virus.
- We rented mrotatboso for our lake outing.
- The cechk-otus at the grocery store are always busy.
- The HR department monitors the olg-sin and log-outs of the employees.
- I don’t need four different wallpapers for my bedroom.
- Maila brings three textbooks to school every day.
- The college will have to organize separate send-offs for the graduating students.
- The hangers-on were annoying the celebrities at the event.
- We need to buy six pairs of running shoes for our marathon training.
- My brothers-in-law are coming over for dinner tonight.
- Dr. Adam has been studying several outbreaks of the virus.
- We rented motorboats for our lake outing.
- The check-outs at the grocery store are always busy.
- The HR department monitors the log-ins and log-outs of the employees.
Plural Form of Compound Nouns List
|List of Plural Form Compound Nouns|
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
English grammar, like any language, is a complex subject to study. Understanding and applying grammar rules can be challenging, especially for English language learners. However, your success in learning the language is dependent on your learning plan.
First, know that there are different levels of language proficiency. Knowing your status allows you to align it with your study materials and learning strategy. To keep your motivation, select beginner-friendly materials instead of university textbooks when starting. In doing so, you will feel less intimidated by the topics you should learn.
Second, focus on the basics: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Learn how to use them correctly in sentences and understand their meaning. It will help you build a strong foundation for your English language learning journey. Divide those topics into subtopics and learn each concept and rule one by one.
Third, find a reliable source of learning materials. Online resources such as websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are mostly free. LillyPad’s blog, for example, is a great resource for English language learning materials. Additionally, you can find books and other printed materials in your local library or bookstore.
Fourth, practice speaking the language with native speakers or other English learners. It will help you understand how to use the language correctly in conversations and improve your pronunciation.
Finally, be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language takes time and effort, so set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.
Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand plural form of irregular nouns and number of nouns singular vs plural.
Common Errors Made by English Learners
Learning a new language can be difficult, and English is no exception. Even experienced English learners make mistakes when speaking or writing in the language. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by English learners:
|Common Mistake||Why it Happens||Correction||Examples|
|When the compound noun follows the pattern noun + prepositional phrase, always convert the noun to its plural form.||Learners usually carry the rule of pluralizing nouns at the end of the word. However, different rules apply to compound nouns.||When the compound noun follows the pattern noun + prepositional phrase, always convert the noun in its plural form.||Incorrect: mother-in-laws, father-in-laws, sister-in-laws|
Correct: mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sisters-in-law
|With the prevalence of social media, most people use apostrophes to make words plural. This mistake might stem from the fact that possessive nouns and plural nouns use letter ‘s.’||Pluralizing the last word of hyphenated compound nouns with the patterns noun + prepositional phrase||An apostrophe is never used to make a noun plural. Instead, it functions to show possession.||Using an apostrophe to make a noun plural|
Learning Strategies and Best Practices for Plural Form of Compound Nouns
A holistic approach to learning a language makes it easier to understand and remember. The five macro skills, reading, listening, viewing, speaking, and writing, should be developed and used in the learning process for better language acquisition. The table below lists activities you can do when learning linking verbs:
|Reading||– Use flashcards to know basic English sight words and their meaning.|
– Search for material that contains translations of common expressions from your native language to English.
– Select study materials appropriate for your language proficiency.
|Listening||– Listen to an audiobook or a song and write what you hear to improve your retention of English words.|
– Compare and contrast two audio materials like TV ads and a speech.
– Summarize a podcast, movie, audiobook, and other English audio materials.
|Viewing||– Observe how native speakers speak and try to mimic it.|
– Watch English movies, interviews, and tutorials.
– Use pictographs to learn and remember new words.
|Speaking||– Join a community of English language learners and communicate with them to improve and gain feedback.|
– Integrate the language into your daily life and try to speak using English.
– Participate in speech organizations (e.g. debate clubs, theatre groups)
|Writing||– Write a journal of your learning journey in English.|
– Answer practice tests and create your own sentences.
– Create a reflection essay on the media you watch or listen to.
Plural Form of Compound Nouns Frequently Asked Questions
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